Markey research to inform regulations on latest tobacco products

disposable e-cigarette
New Markey Cancer Center research will inform future policy on the sale and marketing of new tobacco products including disposable electronic cigarettes. Yaroslav Litun, iStock/Getty Images Plus.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Feb. 9, 2023) — A new University of Kentucky Markey Cancer Center study will help inform policy on the sale and marketing of two different tobacco products recently introduced to the U.S. market.

The study, published in Preventive Medicine Reports, is one of the first to examine the retail availability of disposable e-cigarettes and oral nicotine pouches and gives an early indication the products are targeted to different audiences.

“As they go through the FDA’s pre-market authorization process, disposable e-cigarettes and nicotine pouches will soon become subject to more regulation. Understanding their availability will help to inform potential policy actions regulating their sale and marketing,” said Shyanika Rose, Ph.D., the study’s first author and an assistant professor in the UK College of Medicine

Rose collaborated with colleagues Cristine Delnevo, Ph.D., and Mary Hrywna, Ph.D., from Rutgers Center for Tobacco Studies to study the availability of these products at four sites in Kentucky, New Jersey, New York and North Carolina. 

The team audited tobacco retailers to identify the availability of nicotine pouches and disposable e-cigarettes compared to conventional products, including cigarettes. They also tracked neighborhood characteristics of store locations.

Results showed that despite being recently introduced to the market, both products were already widespread. However, their patterns of availability differed from each other and from regular combustible cigarettes, suggesting that they are targeted to different audiences.

In particular, disposable e-cigarettes were more likely to be sold by specialized tobacco/vape stores, while nicotine pouches were more available in convenience stores and in stores in areas with more non-Hispanic white residents.

Tobacco companies market to specific audiences, resulting in tobacco-related health disparities for certain population groups. As new products hit the market, identifying their target audiences is the first step to developing equitable policies surrounding their sale and marketing.

“We know the industry plays a powerful role in shaping the retail environment and so the point of sale can provide clues about where the industry may be focusing their efforts,” said Hrywna. “Particularly with newer products like nicotine pouches where research is still quite limited, our study using retail store audits offers insight on potential target audiences for such products.”

Research reported in this publication was supported by the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number R01CA231139. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

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